I am not a runner. If you are, please do not be offended. I am sure you find some joy in pounding the pavement into submission. I hate it! That is why I had such a conflict when my son asked me to enter a 5k race on a 4th of July weekend in Houston. I agreed. For weeks, I conditioned, running and walking, getting ready for the race. Finally the day came. The race started at 7 a.m., and it was already 90 degrees. I can’t tell you how many times I felt like taking the shortcut to the finish line. But I went on and finally finished the race. Near the finish line, my son came running back to me and ran/walked alongside with me to the end. I love him, and I knew I couldn’t quit. All the conditioning and all the enduring was just a demonstration of my love for him.
As we run the race of life, there are many places where we just want to quit doing the right things. We want to stop worrying about making the right choices. We feel drained and unable to act in the way we know would please Jesus. We become so self-focused that we don’t see the next step he wants us to take. But the reality is that we show our love and devotion to Christ through enduring the trials in life that we face. Paul writes that it is Christ’s love for us that controls us, moves us, and motivates us.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15
Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.
The devil wants us to be discouraged by our circumstances and just quit. Peter encourages us to stand firm against him.
1 Peter 5:9
Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.
In the same way that I had to prepare for that race, we need to prepare to grow in our ability to stand firm. As we stand firm in the little trials we face, we grow in our ability to trust God in the middle of those trials. Our faith muscles get stronger, and we are able to stand in the face of more difficult circumstances. Those muscles get stronger because we are becoming more accustomed to surrendering ourselves to the Holy Spirit. We trust that He is working in our lives and preparing us for the future. The knowledge that the Holy Spirit is at work within us is encouraging. We know that he is the source of strength that helps us stand firm during the darkest storms of our lives. This is “spiritual conditioning.” And it will prepare us for the life race we are running.
Many times we feel that if only our circumstances would change, we could do better. If only we had more money, a better boss, a different job, a better spouse, or better kids, then we could really make a difference. The truth is we make a huge impact when we endure the difficulties in life rather than escaping them. When we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives and give us the strength to stand, we provide hope for those around us who see our struggle, our response, and our glorifying of the Lord.
When you face trials in your daily life, do you look for a way to escape, or do you ask God to help you endure?
What can you do this week to work on your “spiritual conditioning” in preparation for the difficult circumstances that you may face?
Get involved in a group. Through those relationships, the Holy Spirit will bring encouragement and help you focus on Jesus when difficult times come to your life. Start building those relationships now.
Be observant this week. Look for someone who is going through difficult circumstances and be the voice of encouragement for them. Help them to focus on the source of strength that will help them endure the trials that they are facing.
As we continue through 1 Peter this week, we focus today on 1 Peter 4. We encourage you to read through this chapter in your Bible. Or, you can listen to it through the StreetLights Bible. You can download the app or visit streetlightsbible.com.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the great gift of salvation that you provided. I know that gift does not mean that all is going to be well in life. In fact, I know you tell me in your Word that I will face trials. Help me to keep my focus on you so I can develop the spiritual strength to stand firm no matter what life throws at me. Thank you for your Holy Spirit who guides and comforts me. In Jesus’ name, amen.
This post was written by Terry McGraner. Terry is an engineer at Dana Corporation. He facilitates GrowthTrack and leads a Group at the South Toledo campus. He is married and the father of four adult sons. He loves spending time with his family and communicating the truth of God’s Word to make an impact in the lives of others.
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